Over the past month I’ve gone to three of my friends’ competitions. Two were to support my girl friend in her return to sport climbing. She was amazing! The third, and I wish there had been a fourth, was to support Thunderthighs and the Giant Everwin team in their first race.

My girl was absolutely fantastic. I’ve never seen her so focused, and at the same time so completely in her own. Strong and confident, she gave me exquisite pleasure just to be there, cheering her, secretly saying to myself “Hey all you people! That’s MY friend there!”

Working the overhang like a beast
Working the overhang like a beast
Resting between climbs
Resting between climbs
Sending the first route of the finals. Tricky and balancy, but just what she's good at
Sending the first route of the finals. Tricky and balancy, but just what she’s good at.

The next week I went out to 群馬 (Gunma) with the racing team to see what a road race looked like. It was fun from the start, with an easy atmosphere despite the fact that the start was at 3am.

How are we all gonna fit?
OhaYO~!
Checking our gear at the start line
Checking our gear at the start line

I would have been intimidated if I was showing up alone to race and saw all these guys with all their bikes and tools spread out all over the parking lot. But since I was with the group, to me it was just exciting to feel all the tension buried just underneath, ready to explode at the sound of the gun.

いってきま~す!
いってきま~す!

These two were a father-son pair and it was the first race for both of them. Fight! Fight!

冷静でハイテンション
冷静でハイテンション

Even I’m nervous at the start line to a running race. These guys must have been so much more so, but they hid it well. Thunder did not keep his nerves in check as well. He exploded to the front of the line, and then imploded a few laps later. A shame, but still impressive to have held on as long as he did.

最初から先頭
最初から先頭

Going home, a few of us had to be reduced to “cargo” status, but apparently cargo is a pretty comfy ride.

Comfy? Zzzzzz
Comfy? Zzzzzz

All the guys did their best and it was a thrill just to be there. Something about knowing the competitors, knowing their histories and the reasons why they are racing, makes everything more exciting, more meaningful and more fun.

I like having fun. Cheering my friends is stupid fun!

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